NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi on Wednesday survived an impeachment vote after MPs failed to meet the threshold needed to set up a select committee to probe allegations of misconduct and gross violation of the Constitution.
House Speaker Justin Muturi announced that the motion had failed, after only 89 MPs of the 140 present in the chamber voted in support while the Constitution requires it to be supported by 117 MPs.
Muturi had earlier guided the House by saying that if the motion was supported by at least 117 MPs, the Committee on Selection would have had to convene to appoint an 11 member Select Committee to probe the allegations.
The debate took political undertones from the onset as Majority Leader Aden Duale, Priscilla Nyokabi (Nyeri County), Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi) and James Nyikal (Seme) among others opposed the motion because the particulars it raised did not meet the threshold for the removal of a CS.
“Nobody in this country is as arrogant as Members of Parliament. Arrogance is not a ground for removal of a Cabinet Secretary,” Nyokabi said while admitting that the same charge had been used by MPs to deny Interior PS Monica Juma an appointment to the post of Secretary to the Cabinet.
Minority Whip Thomas Mwadeghu, Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i) and Ronald Tonui (Bomet Central) urged their colleagues to back the motion by Matayos MP Geoffrey Odanga in which he claimed Kaimenyi was running down the Ministry of Education by not listening to other stakeholders when developing policies and was not ready to work with others.
“I don’t think he will be able to manage the sector, unless he changes his attitude and starts consulting with stakeholders like teachers, MPs and the others but when the Njuri Ncheke (Council of Elders) had to push him to pay a fine, then you understand what I mean when I say he is hard-headed and purports to be a know-it-all,” Mwadeghu said.
“This House has a date with destiny, to send a very clear message, let use Kaimenyi as an example that this House will not tolerate, will not stand any Cabinet Secretary or government official that brings a cavalier and uncaring attitude to the public service,” Namwamba added.
“As evidence that the CS is incompetent, the President himself recently shifted the running of the laptop for schools project from the Ministry of Education to that of ICT. What other form of incompetence do you want, if we cannot see this?” Odanga, a former teacher posed.
“The President wants assistance from this House. If it were in the old regime he would have sent him home a long time ago. But because he has no such powers today the National Assembly must initiate the process.”
In a debate marked with light moments, House Leaders Duale and Mwadeghu traded barbs and the Speaker was not left out as he invoked humour to retain the proceeding at an amicable mood.
“I am thankful that my colleagues have admitted that this man is following in the footsteps of Duale of being hard-headed and believing he has mastery,” Mwadeghu.
This is after Duale had claimed that he is often described as arrogant when he just ‘tells it like he sees it.’
“You cannot laugh for two minutes, just do it for thirty seconds and let him expound,” the Speaker interjected as the House roared into another round of laughter after Meru County Woman Representative Florence Kajuju defended Duale against claims of arrogance.
“Is the member in order to claim that Duale is arrogant, Mr Speaker, when what Duale said is that he is handsome and you can never kill a man because he is handsome…” she said.
Only for Mwadeghu to respond, “Asifuye mvua, imenyea (he who praises the rain has been rained on). I want to tell my sister I don’t have a problem if she finds Duale handsome.”